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FIRE DEATHS 

IIM THE UNITED STATES: 

REVIEW OF [DAIA SOURCES 
AND RANGE OF ESTIMATES 



National Fire Data Center • National Fire Prevention and Control Administration 
U.S. DEPARTIVIENT OF COMMERCE 



FIRE DEATHS 

IN THE UNITED STATES: 

REVIEW OF DATA SOURCES 
AND RANGE OF ESTIMATES 



is<°:x 




^ATESO'^^ 



Geraldine Fristrom 

National Fire Data Center 

National Fire Prevention and 

Control Administration 

U.S. Department of Commerce 

September 1977 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 



Stock No. 003-000-00531-3 



CONTENTS 



Executive Summary i 

I. Introduction 1 

II. Fire Fatality Data and Data Sources 

Department of Health, Education and Welfare 3 

National Fire Protection Association 6 

State Fire Marshal Reports 8 

Transportation Accident Studies 11 

III. Comparison of Fire Death Rates Estimated 
by Various Approaches 

Motor Vehicle Fire Deaths 17 

Death Certificate Omissions of Fire Causality 19 

Total Annual Fire Deaths and Death Rates 19 

IV. Selected Characteristics of Fire Deaths 23 



Executive Summary 



Over the past decade, it has often been reported that approximately 
12,000 fire deaths occur in the United States each year. To check the 
validity of this estimate and to identify the population groups most 
affected and the causes of the fires in which deaths occur, a study of 
fire death data was undertaken. 

Death Rates 

The fire death data examined revealed large differences in estimates 
derived from various data sources in the annual rate of fire deaths in 
the United States. The range was 6,000 to 12,000 deaths per year. We 
think the range 7,000 to 9,000 is most plausible, but further analysis is 
needed to be sure. However, all sources indicated that the fire death 
rate in the United States has declined during the period 1970-1974. 

Annual fire death rates based on data in State fire marshal reports 
from the years 1970-1975 indicate that between 29 and 35 fire deaths 
per million population occur each year. These death rates projected 
nationally mean that 6,000 to 7,400 fire deaths occur in the United 
States each year. 

The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare vital statistics 
mortality data for the 1970 to 1974 period provide another source of 
fire death rates, but they exclude motor vehicle accident fire deaths. 
The number of annual fire-related motor vehicle accident deaths were 
calculated from data in special studies of motor vehicle accident deaths 
and added to the HEW reported fire deaths. The maximum yearly 
number of motor vehicle accident fire deaths was estimated to be 
1,270, the minimum 280. 

Adjustments were also made to the HEW data for fire deaths which 
might not be included in the tabulations due to omissions of fire on 
death certificates as the underlying cause of death. The maximum 
number of such deaths, based on two recent in-depth studies of fire 
deaths, was estimated to be 670 per year. The absolute minimum 
number of such deaths would, of course, be zero. 

Addition of the maximum estimates for vehicle fire deaths and death 
certificate omissions to the HEW tabulated fire deaths resulted in annual 
fire death estimates ranging from 8,600 to 9,320 per year between 1970 
and 1974, or fire death rates between 41 and 46 deaths per million 
population. Addition of the estimated minimum number of these fire 
deaths to HEW tabulations resulted in an annual number of fire deaths 
between 7,000 and 7,700 per year, and fire death rates ranging from 
33 to 38 deaths per million population during these years. The range 
of minimally adjusted fire death rates overlaps that calculated from State 
fire marshal reports data; that is, these two estimates are in general 
agreement. 



Estimates of annual numbers of fire deaths published by the National 
Fire Protection Association during the years 1970-1974 range from 
11,600 to 12,200 and the corresponding death rates from 55 to 60 deaths 
per million population. These estimates contain larger numbers of annual 
motor vehicle fire deaths than would be estimated from most of the 
motor vehicle accident studies reviewed. If the difference between the 
number of motor vehicle fire deaths known to be included in the 19-71 
NFPA estimate and the maximum number of such deaths estimated 
from the transportation studies reviewed is subtracted from the NFPA 
estimated total number of fire deaths for this year, the total number of 
fire deaths becomes 9,135 and the fire death rate 45 deaths per million 
population. This value is exactly equal to the fire death rate estimated 
from the maximally adjusted HEW fire death tabulations for 1971. 1971 
is the only year for which an NFPA estimate of the actual number of 
motor vehicle fire deaths was found in the literature. 

Victim Types 

According to the data from all sources, the populations most affected 
by fire are males, nonwhites, the young, and the old. 

• Males have accounted for 62-63% of annual fire deaths, females 
for 37-38%. The proportion of males in the general population was 
constant at 49%. Much but not all of the disproportion was 
due to the exceptionally high death rates among nonwhite males. 

• Nonwhites have accounted for 25-27% of annual fire deaths, twice 
that to be expected from their proportion (12%) in the general 
population. 

• Nonwhite males have accounted for 15-16% of the annual fire 
deaths, nearly three times their proportion (6%) in the general 
population. 

• Fire deaths among the young (ages 0-13) and the old (over 60) 
have accounted for over 50% of annual fire deaths, although the 
proportion of these two age groups in the general population was 
only 34%. 

The first three of these four facts appear to be relatively little known. 
They have major implications for new directions needed in targeting 
fire prevention programs, especially those for nonwhite males. Detailed 
analysis of the reasons for this disproportionate loss are required before 
the problem can be adequately attacked. 

Residential Fires 

State fire marshal reports and the 30,000 fire records in the NFPA 
Fire Incident Data Organization (FIDO) file indicate that 72-74% of all 
fire deaths occur in residential occupancies. NFPA annual estimates of the 
proportion of fire deaths occurring in residential occupancies is approxi- 
mately 60% of the total fire deaths; however, if the total number of 
annual estimated fire deaths is adjusted downward to account for 
possible overestimates of motor vehicle fire deaths, the percentage of 
residential fire deaths increases to 72%, in good agreement with the 
other sources. Thus residential fires account for almost three-fourths 



of annual fire deaths, making the residential problem even greater than 
previously thought. Residential fires probably deserve the most attention 
in increased prevention efforts. 

Clothing Ignitions 

Fire deaths due to clothing ignitions was the only cause category 
where data could be compared between data sources. According to 
NFPA and HEW data, these ignitions account for from 8-11% of annual 
fire deaths. HEW data show that the number of fire deaths due to cloth- 
ing ignitions has decreased 42% between 1970 and 1974. 



I. Introduction 



Present information indicates that the United 
States annual fire deaths per capita are among 
the highest of all the major industrialized na- 
tions (1). The National Fire Prevention and 
Control Administration (NFPCA) was estab- 
lished by Congress in 1974 and given the task 
of reducing these losses as rapidly as possible. 
In order to accomplish this task, the factors 
influencing these losses must be understood 
and their magnitude measured accurately to 
assess progress. 

Published fire fatality data from vanous 
sources were examined in an effort to check 
the validity of recent estimates of total annual 



fire deaths, to identify causes of fire in which 
these deaths occur, and to identify which 
populations are most affected by fire. The 
present major sources of data are the Depart- 
ment of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), 
Vital Statistics Division; the National Fire Pro- 
tection Association (NFPA) publications; and 
State Fire Marshal Annual Reports. The infor- 
mation collected by each of these sources is 
described and recent data are presented in this 
report. Comparisons of data are made where 
appropriate. Data from special in-depth stud- 
ies of fire deaths are utilized to make the data 
from the different sources comparable. 



II. Fire Fatality Data and Data Sources 



Department of Health, Education 
and Welfare 

The Department of Health, Education and 
Welfare (HEW), National Center for Health Sta- 
tistics, publishes annual fire fatality tabulations 
in Vital Statistics of the United States: Mortality 
Volume II (2). Data are available each Septem- 
ber for the preceding calendar year. Data are 
compiled from analysis of death certificates 
submitted by the fifty States. Deaths are classi- 
fied according to the Eighth Revision, Interna- 
tional Classification of Diseases (3). Deaths due 



to fire and flames are listed in the E 890-899 
codes; and deaths due to explosion, fire, or 
burning in water transport in the E 877 codes; 
and deaths due to explosive materials in the 
E 921-923 codes. Deaths involving high explo- 
sives are not included in these explosive mate- 
rials codes. Table 1 lists the sub-categories of 
these mortality classifications. Information on 
sex and race is given in the published annual 
tables and more detailed information such as 
age and place of residence may be retrieved 
from HEW computer records. 



Table 1. HEW National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Classifications 



Code 



Mortality Class 



Code 



Mortality Class 



E 890-899 



Accidents Caused by Fire and 
Flames 



890 Conflagration in private dwelling 

891 Conflagration in other buildings 
and structures 

892 Conflagration not In building or 
structure 

893 Ignition of clothing* 

894 Ignition highly flammable material* 

895 Controlled fire in private dwelling 

896 Controlled fire in other buildings 
and structures 

897 Controlled fire not in building or 
structure 

898 Other specified fires or flames 

899 Unspecified fire 

E 837 Explosion, Fire, or Burning in 

Water Transport 

837.0 Accidents, small boats 

837.1 Accidents, other water craft, crew 

837.2 Accidents, other water craft, non- 



837.3 Stevedore 

837.8 Specified persons 

837.9 Unspecified persons 

E 921 Accidents Caused by Explosion 

Pressure Vessels 



921.0 


Boilers 


921.1 


Gas Cylinders 


921.8 


Other 


E 923 


Accidents Caused by Explosive 




Material 


923.0 


Fireworks 


923.1 


Blasting material 


923.2 


Gas, explosive 


923.8 


Other 


923.9 


Unspecified 



* Deaths resulting from clothing and highly flam- 
mable material ignitions are included in these sepa- 
rate categories and not under structure or non- 
structure codes. 



Table 2. 

Year 



HEW FIRE DEATH STATISTICS 1970-1974 

1970 1971 1972 1973 



1974 



Fire Related Deaths 



Total 




7355 


7416 


7254 


7109 


6764 


Males 




4540 


4590 


4514 


4393 


4259 


Females 




2815 


2826 


2740 


2716 


2505 




% of Total 
Population 




% of Total Fire Deaths 




White males 


42.7 


46.0 


45.8 


46.7 


46.4 


48.2 


White females 


44.9 


27.9 


27.5 


27.1 


28.1 


27.2 


Nonwhite males 


6.0 


15.7 


16.1 


15.5 


15.4 


14.8 


Nonwhite females 


6.4 


10.4 


10.6 


10.7 


10.1 


9.8 



* Excludes motor vehicle, air, and rail accident fire deaths; includes those from water transport accidents. 
Source: Vital Statistics of the United States: Mortality Section. United States National Center for Health 
Statistics, Department Health, Education and Welfare. 



For analyzing fire-related fatalities the HEW 
data have several limitations. Deaths occurring 
in motor vehicle, rail, or air transportation acci- 
dents where fire accompanied the accident are 
included in the total accidental deaths for these 
types of transportation and not in the fire 
death tabulations regardless of w/hether fire 
caused the death. Deaths in the explosive ma- 
terials codes may include deaths not due to 
fire. Some fire fatalities may not be included 
in the tabulations because the death certificates 
of individuals who expire some time after the 
fire incident may not indicate fire as a related 
death factor. However, all State death certifi- 
cates are analyzed and coded by the HEW 
Mortality Statistics Branch and since death cer- 
tificates are required legal documents in all 
States, the Mortality Branch believes that regis- 
tration is nearly 99.9% complete and that these 
documents are as accurate as is possible to 
obtain.* The HEW fire death tabulations are 

* Accuracy of death certificate registrations has not been 
tested formally. HEW studies of birth certificate registra- 
tions determined these to be 99.2% complete. (Robert 
Armstrong, Mortality Health Statistics Branch, HEW). 



the only detailed national tabulations available 
and represent a lower bound on yearly na- 
tional fire deaths. 

HEW mortality data on deaths attributable 
to fire, flame, and explosion for the years 
1970 through 1974 are given in Table 2. In 
addition to the total number of fire deaths, sex 
and race of the fatalities are shown. Males 
accounted for 61.7 to 63.0% of the fire victims 
during this period while their percentage in 
the general population remained constant at 
48.7% (4). Nonwhites have accounted for 24.6 
to 26.7% of fire deaths during this period 
while their percentage in the general popula- 
tion increased only slightly from 12.4 to 12.9%. 
These data show that nonwhites have double 
their expected proportion of fire deaths. Non- 
white males accounted for 15 to 16% of an- 
nual fire deaths; however, they represent only 
6% of the general population, experiencing 
nearly triple their expected proportion of fire 
deaths. 

The mortality data examined attribute 91 to 
93% of the yearly recorded fire deaths to fire 
and flames, the rest to explosion and water 



transportation accident fires. Table 3 lists the 
total deaths by fire and flames and the percent 
and number of deaths in each of the fire and 
flames sub-categories by year. Deaths due to 
asphyxia or poisoning by combustion products 
are included in the fire and flame categories. 
"Private dwellings" includes all residential oc- 
cupancies except institutions. Deaths resulting 
from "clothing ignitions" and "highly flamma- 
ble materials" (such as gasoline or matches) 
are recorded in these sub-categories regardless 
of where they occurred. 

Although the total number of deaths by fire 
and flames is shown to have decreased some- 
what during the period 1970 through 1974, the 
percentage of the deaths occurring in private 



dwellings (residential occupancy) increased 
from 63% in 1970 to 70% in 1974. Deaths re- 
sulting from clothing ignitions are shown as 
having decreased continually, down 42% over 
this 5-year period from 760 to 437. Non-build- 
ing fire deaths have also decreased. The un- 
identified death sub-categories for these years 
account for 14 to 16% of the total deaths 
attributable to fire and flames. 

The 6 to 8% of all fire deaths recorded as 
due to explosive materials, explosion of pres- 
sure vessels, and explosion, fire, or burning in 
water vessel accidents are predominately male 
(greater than 81% of all categories for all five 
years). Gas explosions and boiler explosions 
are the major causes of explosion deaths. Small 



Table 3. 



HEW MORTALITY STATISTICS 1970-74 

Deaths by Fire and Flames 



Year 



1970 



1971 



1972 



1973 



1974 





Total Deaths 
by Fire and 
Flames 


6718 


6776 


6714 


6503 


6236 


Classification 






% and Number of Deaths by Fire and Flames 








% 


Number 


% 


Number 


% 


Number 


% 


Number 


% 


Number 


Private 
dwellings 


62.9 


4226 


64.9 


4401 


69.3 


4654 


67.1 


4362 


69.6 


4340 


Other buildings 
and 
structures 


4.8 


325 


3.9 


265 


4.0 


268 


4.3 


280 


4.4 


274 


Fire not in 
buildings or 
structures 


2.2 


147 


1.8 


123 


1.4 


92 


1.3 


87 


1.2 


75 


Clothing 
ignitions 


11.3 


760 


9.7 


655 


8.1 


542 


8.0 


517 


7.0 


437 


Highly 
flammable 
material 


3.8 


253 


3.3 


223 


3.3 


224 


3.9 


254 


2.9 


181 



Other (speci- 
fied and 
unspecified) 15.0 1007 16.4 1109 13.9 934 15.4 1003 14.9 



929 



Source: Vital Statistics of the United States: Mortality Section, United States National Center for Health 
Statistics, Department Heaitii, Education and Welfare. 



boat accident fatalities and water-craft crew 
fatalities account for all but one death asso- 
ciated with water-craft during the period ex- 
amined. 

National Fire Protection Association 

Annual Estimates 

The National Fire Protection Association 
(NFPA) publishes annual estimates of United 
States fire fatalities in their publication Fire 
Journal. The "Fires and Fire Losses Classified" 
report, which usually appears in the September 
issue of this journal, carries estimates of total 
fire deaths, fire incidents, and dollar losses for 
the preceding year. Information on the pro- 
portion of annual fire deaths occurring in 
residential occupancies is usually given. 

NFPA prepares these fatality estimates from 
HEW mortality data. State fire marshal reports, 
fire department reports, motor vehicle acci- 
dent studies, and special studies and investiga- 
tions of the NFPA. Since 1971, NFPA has stated 
in "Fires and Fire Losses Classified" that the 
estimates in the report are prepared from sur- 
veys of approximately 2,000 fire departments 
of all sizes (500 to 8 million people protected) 
located in all fifty States, State fire marshal 
reports, other fire department reports, insur- 
ance reports, special studies, and incidents 
entered in the NFPA Fire Incident Data Organi- 
zation (FIDO) system. These data are extended 
by statistical techniques and allowances for 
unreported fires and losses are included. De- 
tails of the statistical techniques used by NFPA 
have been unavailable. 

A new edition of the NFPA Fire Protection 
hiandbook which contains a chapter on fire 
casualities is published every six or seven years. 
Data in the "Handbooks" represent the cumu- 
lative fire experience for the past years. In 
addition to total yearly fire fatality estimates 
for recent years, occupancies where deaths oc- 
curred, age of fire victims, time of day when 
fatal fires occur, factors influencing failure of 
occupants to escape fires, and factors respon- 
sible for spread of smoke and fire are ex- 
amined. In both recent editions of the Fire 
Protection Handbool< (5,6) a large portion of 
the death data is given in terms of the numbers 



of or the percentage of fatal fires. In order to 
compare this information with that in other 
NFPA publications and data from other sources, 
it must be converted into terms of the num- 
ber of or the percentage of total fire deaths 
occurring in various occupancy types or due 
to various causes, etc. 

FIDO 

The NFPA has been accumulating fire data 
in its FIDO file since 1971. There are presently 
approximately 36,000* fire incidents in this sys- 
tem from which information on cause, occu- 
pancy, ignition source, item ignited, etc. can 
be retrieved. Age and sex of the fire victims are 
not recorded in the computer file but can be 
obtained from hard copy files maintained by 
NFPA. The NFPA originally designed the FIDO 
file as an indexing tool for retrieving informa- 
tion on significant fires for engineering pur- 
poses and, therefore, it may be biased towards 
fires in which multiple deaths occur.* How- 
ever, NFPA does make an effort to acquire 
and include information on all fire deaths re- 
ported to them. A report utilizing this file to 
prepare descriptions of the type fires most fre- 
quently responsible for fire deaths has recently 
been published in the NFPA Fire lournal (7). 
This report lists the percent of fire deaths oc- 
curring in various occupancy types and the per- 
cent of deaths due to "apparel ignitions" 
(clothing fires) recorded in the years from 1971 
to 1975. 

Table 4 was prepared from these NFPA pub- 
lications. The values which were obtained by 
conversion of published occupancy data to 
percent of total fire deaths are noted. This 
conversion was made utilizing the 1971 occu- 
pancy distribution of fire fatalities prepared for 
the National Commission on Fire Prevention 
and Control by NFPA (1). For example, the 1976 
"Handbook" states that 93.4% of building fire 
deaths occur in residential occupancies. The 
1971 fire death estimates supplied by NFPA to 
the Commission indicate that 63.9% of yearly 
fire deaths occur in building fires. The percent- 



* Information received by telephone from Dr. L. Derry, 
Manager, Fire Analysis Department, NFPA, on June 28, 
1977. 



Table 4. 
Year 



NFPA FIRE DEATH ESTIMATES 

1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 



1976 1971-1975 



Sources: 



Annual fire 
fatalities 



Fire 

Profecf/onf 

Handbook, 

13th ed. 

12,000 



Fire Journal 



12,200 11,850 11,900 11,700 11,600 



Fire 
Protecfiont 
Handbook, FIDO" 
14th ed. file 

12,000 — 



Classification 



% of Annua/ Fire Fatalities 



Residential 


48.6 


Private 




Dwellings 
(1 and 2 
family 
dwellings) 




Cause of death 




in building 
fires*** 




Asphyxiation 


62.3 


Burn 


26.0 


Other 


11.7 


Motor Vehicles 




(includes 




tank trucks) 


5.1 


Clothing 




ignitions 


— 


Age*** 0-4 


17.6 


5-14 


10.0 


over 65 


27.7 



51.3tt 55.7** 



62.1 57.0 59.7tt 72.0ttt 



— 55.5 — 



— 33.3** — 



40.6tt 44.6ttt 



62.3 


— 


26.0 


— 


11.7 


— 


— 


4.0 





11.0 


17.6 


— 


10.0 


— 


27.7 


— 



t Data in the Fire Protection Handbook represent cumulative fire experience for past years. 
* "A Summary of Fire Deaths in the United States 1971-1975," Ottoson, John, National Fire Protec- 
tion Association, August 8, 1975. Prepared for the Fire Research Center, National Bureau of Stand- 
ards. "Fire Death Scenarios and Firesafety Planning," Clark, F. B., and Ottoson, J., Fire Journal, 
May 1976, p. 20. 
tt Computed value using the percentage deaths by property type from NFPA 1971 estimates supplied 

to the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control. 
** Estimates supplied by NFPA to the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, 1971, 
America Burning, 1973. 
ttt Actual count in FIDO file adjusted downward to exclude deaths independent of structure, i.e., deaths 

due to apparel and apparel plus flammable fluid ignitions. 
*** Values given in the 1969 and 1976 editions of the Fire Protection Handbook are based on the same 
data. 



age of yearly fire deaths occurring in residential 
occupancies is then 93.4% of the 63.9% build- 
ing fire deaths or 59.7% of the total. This 1971 
occupancy distribution of fire deaths is the 
most recent national tabulation released by 
NFPA. 

Residential occupancy covers all property 
used as residences exclusive of institutional 
properties such as nursing homes and hos- 
pitals. "Private dwellings" are one and two 
family dwellings. (Note that this is a much 
narrower category than HEW uses for "private 
dwellings.") Only the cause of fatalities occur- 
ring in building fires was available. 

The fatality occupancy data in Fire Protec- 
tion Handbook, 13th Edition represents 35 
years of fire incidents reported to NFPA. It is 
stated in the "Handbook" that roughly 10% of 
the total estimated fire fatalities are included. 
However, it is now believed that less than 
10% of the fire deaths are included and that 
these data are probably biased towards multiple 
death fires.* The data on fire deaths by age 
group in this edition of the "Handbook" are 
National Office of Vital Statistics data (now the 
National Center for Health Statistics, HEW, that 
was previously discussed). The values from the 
1976 Fire Protection Handbook for causes of 
death in building fires and age of fire victims 
are based on the data in the 1969 "Hand- 
book".* 

The NFPA annual fire fatality estimates show 
a slight decrease over the years 1970 through 
1974. Fatalities occurring in residential occu- 
pancies have increased. Actual records in the 
FIDO file show that 84% of all fire fatalities 
occur in residential occupancies (7). However, 
when those deaths classified as independent of 
structure, i.e. deaths resulting from apparel and 
apparel plus flammable fluid ignitions, are ex- 
cluded, the percentage of residential fire deaths 
is reduced to 72%. 

The number and percentage of fire deaths 
associated with motor vehicle accidents com- 
puted from the 1969 "Handbook" data and 
that computed from data in the FIDO file (7,8) 

* Information received by telephone from Dr. L. Derry, 
Manager, Fire Analysis Department, NFPA, on June 28, 
1977. No estimate of the percentage of fire deaths that 
is included in the "Handbook" is available. 



differ greatly from the estimated number of 
these deaths reported to the National Com- 
mission on Fire Prevention and Control (604 
and 474 vs. 3,950). This estimated figure as 
well as other NFPA yearly motor vehicle fire 
fatality estimates in recent years was based on 
a 1951 study of Dunn and Hatpin (9). This 
study reviewed a one-tenth sample of 1949 
death certificates for specified vehicular acci- 
dent types on file at the National Center for 
Health Statistics, in order to obtain statistics 
on accident fatalities in which fire was identi- 
fied as an associated cause. The results of this 
study and estimates based on it have been 
questioned in the literature (10,11). Cooley 
(10) suggests that an error by a factor of 10 
may have been made in the original study 
computation. In view of the considerably differ- 
ent findings of more recent studies and the 
relatively strong agreement among the review- 
ers of the Dunn and Halpin study (10,11), it 
was concluded that the study should not be 
used as a basis for estimating motor vehicle 
fire deaths. 

State Fire Marshal Reports 

Annual State fire marshal reports contain fire 
fatality information of varying completeness 
and detail. Some list only total deaths for a 
year, while others give detailed data on age, 
sex, occupancy, ignition source, and cause of 
death. Some motor vehicle fire fatality data 
can be obtained from these reports; however, 
this classification varies widely from State to 
State. Some States give only total motor ve- 
hicle fire deaths, while others include not only 
vehicle wrecks and fires, but also stationary 
vehicle ignitions involving use of flammable 
liquid and fire in mobile property of all types 
including motorized lawn mowers and building 
equipment such as tractors, bulldozers, etc. 
Even when sub-categories such as wreck and 
fire are given, it is almost impossible to dis- 
tinguish whether the fatality was a result of 
fire or occurred in an accident which was only 
accompanied by fire. 

Most State fire marshal reports are prepared 
from reports of individual fire departments 
within the State. Some States have complete re- 
porting from local jurisdictions, others do not. 



The reporting of fire scene fatalities is prob- 
ably the most complete since these events are 
likely to be reported to the news media as 
well as through other sources and State Fire 
Marshals often will request such incident data 
from local departments. The deaths resulting 
from fire which occur after hospitalization are 
not as completely reported. Local fire depart- 
ments do make efforts to follow the severely 
injured fire victims, often with the aid of news 
media; and if the deaths occur a short time 
after hospitalization, the fatality will likely be 
recorded. Longer term hospitalized fire injuries 
which result in fatalities will probably not be 



reported. Some State fire marshal reports such 
as those of Louisiana, North Carolina, and 
South Carolina use fire fatality data prepared 
by the State Health Department Vital Statistics 
Divisions from death certificates, which should 
contain these later occurring fire fatalities. As 
with the national fire fatality data prepared by 
HEW, this data is dependent on the inclusion 
of fire as an underlying cause on the death 
certificate by local medical authorities. 

Annual State fire marshal reports for various 
years, 1970-1975, for 31 States were examined. 
The fire death rates (summation of yearly State 
deaths divided by the summation of State pop- 



Table 5. STATE FIRE MARSHAL REPORTS: FIRE DEATH RATES 



state 



1970 



1971 



1972 



1973 



1974 



1975 









Fire deaths per miHion population 








Alabama 


60 


62 


44 


53 


43 


— 


Alaska 


118 


114 


123 


88 


134 


92 


Illinois 


— 


— 


33 


36 


38 


— 


Iowa 


30 


26 


27 


31 


29 


— 


Michigan 


29 


39 


34 


33 


37 


35 


Nebraska 


35 


35 


31 


20 


24 


— 


Pennsylvania 


— 


— 


28 


31 


32 


30 


Ohio 


30 


24 


24 


23 


24 


25 


Oregon 


43 


31 


39 


38 


37 


38 


Utah 


17 


21 


20 


16 


14 


— 


Vermont 


31 


40 


46 


62 


30 


21 


Average Rate 














'total deaths h- 














total population 


33 


35 


32 


33 


33 


30 



Deaths per million 
population 



30 - 
20 - 
10 - 



1970 



1971 



1972 1973 
Year 



1974 



1975 



Table 6. STATE FIRE MARSHAL 
FIRE DEATH RATES 

Fire Deaths Per 
State Million Population 

1970 1974 



Alabama 


— 


43 


Alaska 


119 


134 


Arizona 


— 


8 


California 


25 


17 


Connecticut 


19 


20 


Delaware 


44 


33 


Florida 


19 


— 


Illinois 


— 


37 


Iowa 


30 


29 


Kansas 


29 


— 


Kentucky 


36 


■ — 


Louisiana 


52 


43 


Maryland 


35 


35 


Michigan 


29 


37 


Minnesota 


24 


— 


Missouri 


— 


15 


Montana 


29 


— 


Nebraska 


34 


24 


Nevada 


— 


28 


New Mexico 


63 


33 


North Carolina 





42 


North Dakota 


28 


— 


Ohio 


30 


24 


Oklahoma 


44 


35 


Oregon 


46 


37 


Pennsylvania 


— 


32 


South Carolina 


— 


23 


South Dakota 


26 


— 


Tennessee 


56 


— 


Texas 


17 


— 


Utah 


17 


14 


Vermont 


31 


30 


West Virginia 


56 


32 


Wyoming 


— 


50 


Range 


17-119 


8-1 : 


Mean (weighted by 






population) 


30 


29 



ulations) for each year 1970 through 1975 for 
five States and for some of these years for six 
other States are tabulated in Table 5. There 
appears to be no general trend in deaths per 
million population of these States during this 
period. Six of the eleven States show fairly con- 
stant fire death rates since 1972 while sporadic 
increases and decreases are noted in all States 
over the entire period for which data were 
available. The average fire fatality rate com- 
puted using data for all years for these 11 States 
is 32.7 fatalities per million population. Com- 
puting a fire fatality rate for each year with the 
State data available for that year results in a 
maximum rate of 34.9 fire deaths per million 
population In 1971 and a minimum of 30.1 in 
1975. These 11 States represent both large in- 
dustrial States and agricultural States from all 
sections of the country. 

Fire death rates from 25 State fire marshal 
reports for the years 1970 and 1974 are listed 
in Table 6. The State death rates for 1974 were 
obtained directly from State fire marshal re- 
ports. This was the most recent year for which 
a large number of reports were available. The 
State fire death rates for 1970 were published 
in the NFPA Fire Journal (12). The data from 
16 States for both years showed that the total 
number of fire deaths in these States decreased 
17% during this period while the total popu- 
lation increased 4% (4). The fire death rates 
calculated using the data from all 25 States for 
both years are 30.1 deaths per million popula- 
tion (1970) and 28.9 deaths per million popula- 
tion (1974). 

Detailed fire fatality information from, the 
State fire marshal reports examined is sum- 
marized in Table 7. The number of States re- 
porting each Item and the number of yearly 
reports averaged is given. The reports from all 
States for all years covered listed males as the 
majority of fire deaths. 

Of the States using the term "children" to 
delineate age of fire victims, only two defined 
the term. One State included persons under 
18 years; the second State included legal 
minors, giving no age limit. There was little 
consistency In age groupings used In the vari- 
ous State reports. From the State reports where 
fire fatalities In the young and elderly popula- 
tion could be compared, the average propor- 



10 



Table 7. 



STATE FIRE MARSHAL FIRE DEATH DATA 



Classification 



Sex: 



Age: 



male 

female 

children (unspecified) 

0-10 

0-12 

over 65 

over 70 
Residential occupancy 
Cause of death: 

Asphyxiation 

Burn 
Clothing ignitions 
Flammable liquids 
Motor Vehicles 



Percent of 


Number of 


Number of 


Total Deaths 


States Reporting 


Reports 




63.8% 


8 


18 


36.2 


8 


18 


23.6 


6 


10 


17.6 


6 


11 


21.6 


4 


10 


20.9 


6 


16 


18.6 


3 


4 


74.1 


14 


31 


50.5 


5 


12 


32.3 


3 


8 


5.2 


5 


12 


4.3 


3 


10 


10.8 


12 


25 



tion of fire deaths in these populations showed 
a higher percentage of deaths than would be 
expected from their proportion in the general 
population (4). 

Residential occupancies were defined by 
some States to be all property used as resi- 
dences exclusive of institutional property; the 
number of fatalities are listed by this broad 
occupancy type. Other States listed where indi- 
vidual deaths occurred and these were grouped 
by the residential category above which allows 
comparison with the HEW and NFPA data. 

The State fire marshal reports which listed 
deaths due to clothing ignitions and flammable 
liquid ignitions did not include these in any 
property class. The few States which listed the 
percent of deaths due to asphyxiation, burn, or 
other did not define these terms. 

Entries into the percentage of fire fatalities 
occurring in motor vehicles ranged from 2 to 
26% of the total State fire deaths. The State 
with the lowest percentage gave detailed infor- 
mation on the deaths and included one victim 
who was burned in a fire resulting from a ve- 
hicle wreck which was caused by a heart 
attack. The States which included all types of 
mobile property had rates near the average 



of the extremes. The State which reported the 
highest rate (26%) had this rate for only one 
year. A second State reported a rate near this 
value for two years. Neither State defined 
deaths classified as motor vehicle fire fatalities. 

Transportation Accident Studies 

The United States Public Health Service in 
Vital Statistics of the United States (13) pub- 
lishes total yearly deaths occurring in all modes 
of transportation. Yearly total deaths occurring 
in motor vehicle accidents are published by 
the National Safety Council in Accident Facts 
(14). With the exception of water transport 
accident fatalities, neither of these sources pro- 
vide data on the proportion of transportation 
accident fatalities that are attributable to fire. 
Data from these sources for the years 1970, 
1972, and 1973 show that motor vehicle acci- 
dent fatalities were approximately 93% of the 
total transportation accident fatalities. Water 
transport accident fatalities accounted for ap- 
proximately 3% of the total transportation ac- 
cident fatalities for each of these years. The 
proportion of these water transport fatalities 
attributable to fire (computed with the HEW 



11 



Table 8. 



TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENT FIRE FATALITIES 1973 



Transportation Mode 



Fire deaths as percentage Fire deaths as percentage 
Number of deaths of transportation of accident deaths in 

attributed to fire accident fire deaths transportation mode 



Rail 

Air 

Marine 

Motor Vehicles 



10 

115 

57 

3,027 



0.3% 

3.6% 

1.8% 

94.3% 



1.2% 
6.9% 
3.3% 
5.6% 



Fire deaths from "A National Program for Fire Safety In Transportation" Laurlente, M. and Wiggins, J.H. 
Fourth Intersoclety Conference on Transportation, July 18-24, 1976, Los Angeles, California 
Transportation deaths from Statistical Abstracts of the United States 1975, Bureau of the Census, U.S. 
Department of Commerce. 



mortality code E 877 data) decreased from 
2.2% in 1970 to 1.2% in 1973. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) 
maintains records of commercial transport ac- 
cident fatalities. Reports of the National Trans- 
portation Safety Board (NTSB), the Bureau of 
Motor Carrier Safety, and the National High- 
way Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are 
used as sources of air, marine, rail, and motor 
vehicle accident information. DOT has estab- 
lished a Fatal Accident Reporting System (PARS) 
and a National Accident Sampling System to 
collect detailed transportation accident data; 
however, these systems will not be fully opera- 
tional for several years. DOT does not publish 
regular annual estimates for transportation ac- 
cident fatalities or transportation accident re- 
lated fire fatalities. Data on the occurrence of 
fire in transportation accidents and estimates 
of fatalities occurring in transportation acci- 
dents which are accompanied by fire do ap- 
pear in DOT reports and funded research 
studies. 

A recent report on a "National Program for 
Fire Safety in Transportation" cites 13 inde- 
pendent sources which give widely different 
estimates of the annual number of motor ve- 
hicle fire fatalities (15). Seven sources estimated 
the number to be between 500 and 1,000; two 
sources estimated between 1,000 to 1,500; one 
source each estimated between 1,500 and 
2,000 and 2,000 and 2,500; and two sources 



estimated between 3,000 and 3,500. Many of 
these sources were DOT funded studies. This 
report also gives the number of 1973 fire fatali- 
ties occurring in each type of transportation 
accident, noting the uncertainty of the values. 
Table 8 lists these numbers, the percent 1973 
vehicle accident fire deaths occurring in each 
transportation type, and the percentage these 
fire fatalities were of the total accident fatali- 
ties for that type of transportation. Motor vehi- 
cle accidents accounted for 94% of the total 
transportation accident fire deaths. These fire 
deaths were about 6% of all deaths from motor 
vehicle accidents. 

Another recent DOT report, "Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standards: Fuel System Integ- 
rity," Federal Register, March 1974, (16) gives 
an estimate of yearly motor vehicle accident 
fire deaths of between 500 and 1,000. 

The widely varying proportion of transporta- 
tion accident deaths attributable to fire is also 
found in marine transport accidents. The data 
in the DOT transportation fire safety study 
attribute 3.6% of the marine transport ac- 
cident deaths to fire. HEW data for 1973 at- 
tribute only 1.2% of water transport deaths to 
fire. 

The primary reason for the great differences 
in the estimated numbers of fire deaths occur- 
ring in transportation accidents is the difficulty 
of determining without thorough investigation 
and possibly autopsy whether the death was 



12 



due to the accident or fire. The detailed NFPA 
study of a Boeing 727 crash at JFK airport, New 
York 1975, illustrates this problem (17). Orig- 
inally all the victims were recorded as fire 
deaths; however, after investigation, only 15 
of the 114 fatalities were considered fire vic- 
tims. 

Because of the large proportion of transpor- 
tation accident deaths occurring in motor ve- 
hicle accidents, these accidents have been more 
extensively studied than other transportation 
accidents. Studies during the past decade which 
provided information of fire deaths occurring 
in motor vehicle accidents were reviewed by 
the Highway Safety Research institute (HSRI), 
University of Michigan in the 1974 report 
"Fire in Motor Vehicle Accident Studies" (10). 
The sources of the DOT transportation fire 
safety report were covered. These studies and 
the HSRI conclusions are briefly summarized 
in Table 9 and below. 

"Research Report 1969-72 of the New York 
State Department of Motor Vehicles" (18) stud- 
ied State accident data to determine inci- 
dence of fire in motor vehicle accidents and 
identified fatalities resulting from accidents ac- 
companied by fire. State police reports for two 
separate months of 1968 were examined. It 
was determined that 0.07% of all reported 
motor vehicle accidents involved fire and that 
2.38% of all fatal accidents were accompanied 
by fire. 

A "Vehicle Post Collision Consideration 
Study" (19) in Los Angeles City and County 
examined fire department records for the pe- 
riod 1966 to 1969 to delineate post-crash fac- 
tors in accidents. Vehicle fires were found to 
have occurred in less than 0.5% of all vehicle 
collisions and burn fatalities numbered 50 for 
the City of Los Angeles during the 3-year study 
period. This number of fire fatalities equals 
2.7% of the total vehicle crash fatalities for the 
period. 

The University of Oklahoma Research Insti- 
tute under a NHTSA contract (20) studied 
"Escape Worthiness of Vehicles and Occupant 
Survival." The 1970 report, based on Okla- 
homa data, states that traffic deaths in motor 
vehicle accidents involving fire account for 
about 3,500 fatalities per year. This is an upper 
bound since the deaths are not necessarily 



from fire. A second study of "Escape Worthi- 
ness of Vehicles for Occupant Survivals and 
Crashes" for NHTSA in 1972 (21) at the Okla- 
homa Research Institute examined Oklahoma 
and Kansas accident data for 1970 and 1971. 
Information from death certificates and news- 
paper clippings was compared with accident 
file data. The conclusions of the study were 
that 4.7% of all Oklahoma vehicle fatalities 
and 4.9% of all Kansas fatalities were deaths 
in accidents accompanied by fire. Deaths re- 
sulting from fire as opposed to deaths coinci- 
dent with fire in motor vehicle accidents were 
3.3% of vehicle accident deaths for Oklahoma 
and 2.5% for Kansas. 

The Highway Safety Research Institute, Uni- 
versity of Michigan, under NHTSA contract 
studied Wayne County, Michigan, morgue re- 
ports of fatal automobile accident victims from 
1967 to 1969 (22). From these pathological ex- 
amination reports, it was determined that 1.3% 
of the accident victims had died as the result 
of burns. 

The University of Michigan, HSRI, conducted 
an independent study of Michigan police re- 
ports on all fatal motor vehicle accidents for 
the period 1968 through 1971 (10). Most of 
these incident reports included death certifi- 
cates as well as witness narrative statements 
and follow-up investigator reports. Fatalities 
occurring in motor vehicle accidents accom- 
panied by fire were found to be 1.6% (aver- 
age of each year's rate) of the total motor 
vehicle accident fatalities and fatalities result- 
ing from fire in motor vehicle accidents 0.98% 
of the total motor vehicle accident fatalities. 

The Michigan Highway Safety Research In- 
stitute also examined State fire statistics from 
Oregon, Iowa, and Illinois (10). Analysis of Ore- 
gon statistics for the period 1969 to 1973 estab- 
lished that 1.25% of deaths in all motor vehicle 
accidents in the State were attributable to fire. 
The Iowa records for 1971 and 1972 examined 
showed that deaths from fire in motor vehicle 
accidents represented 1.42% of all vehicle ac- 
cident deaths in the State. Illinois mortality 
records for the period 1963 to 1972 were ex- 
amined. Over this period 1.7% of all "in car" 
motor vehicle accident deaths were fire-related 
fatalities. 
The conclusions drawn from these data by 



13 



Table 9. 



SUMMARY OF TRAFFIC FIRE DEATH STUDIES 



studies 



Scope 



Estimated 

fire deaths 

as % yearly 

vehicle 

accident 

deaths 



Estimated number 
of deaths per 
year (calculated 
using average of 
45,000 vehicle 
accident deaths 
per year*) 



Lauriente and Wiggins, 
Fourth Intersociety Conference 
on Transportation, Los Angeles, 
California, July 18-24, 1976 



1973 National estimate 



6.7% 



3,027 



DOT, Federal Register 

Vol. 39, No. 56, March 1974 



National estimate 



1.1-2.2 



500-1,000 



New York State Department New York State Police 

Motor Vehicles Research reports 1968 

Report 1969-72, September 1969 



<2.4 



< 1,080 



Siegel and Nahum, 1970 Los Angeles City and 

International Automobile Safety County fire department 

Conference Compendium, Society records 1966—1969 
Automobile Engineers 1970 



2.7 



1,215 



University of Oklahoma 
Research Institute, Final Report 
for NHTSA under contract 
FH-1 1-7303 December 1970 



Oklahoma accident 
records 1968 



<7.i 



Highway Safety Research 
Institute, University of Michigan 
Special Report for NHTSA under 
Contracts FH-1 1-6555 and 
FH-1 1-7129, June 1972 



Wayne County Michigan 
morgue reports 
1967-1971 



1.3 



<3,500 



University of Oklahoma 


Oklahoma, 


3.3 


1,485 


Research Institute, Final Report 


Kansas accident file 


2.5 


1,125 


for NHTSA under contract 


data and death 






FH-1 1-7512 July 1972 


certificates 1970-1971 







585 



14 



Table 9 cont'd. 



studies 



Scope 


Estimated 

fire deaths 

as % yearly 

vehicle 

accident 

deaths 


Estimated number 
of deaths per 
year (calculated 
using average of 
45,000 vehicle 
accident deaths 
per year*) 


Michigan State Police 






reports 1968-1971 


1.0 


450 


iVlichigan fire statistics 


1.4 


630 


1972 






Oregon fire statistics 


1.3 


585 


1969-1973 






Iowa fire statistics 


1.4 


630 


1971-1972 






Illinois fire statistics 


1.7 


765 


1963-1972 







Highway Safety Research 
Institute, University of Michigan, 
UM-HSRI-SA-74-3, April 1974 



NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, 
13th edition and National Safety 
Council accident data 



National: 10% sample 
motor vehicle fire deaths 
over 35-year period 



1.5 



675 



Johns Hopkins University 
Applied Physics Laboratory 
Fire Problems Program: Fire 
Casualty Studies 1971-1976 



State of Maryland 
1971-1976 



Flammability Research Center 
University of Utah, Progress 
Report "Fire Injuries — Case 
History Studies" under NSF 
Grant Ert 72-03406-1904, 
July 1975 



Greater Salt Lake City, 
June 1972 to 
February 1975 



0.7 



0.6 



309 



280 



Range 



0.6-7.8 



280-3,500 



* Statistical Abstracts of the United States 1975. Number of yearly in veh/c/e traffic deaths during years 
1970-1973 were averaged. 

HSR! are that annual fatalities resulting from fatalities resulting from motor vehicle acci- 

fire in motor vehicle accidents are 1 to 1.5% dents. Based on National Safety Council re- 

of the fatalities of vehicle occupants in United ports of motor vehicle deaths over the period 

States motor vehicle accidents. The annual 1970 to 1974, these percentages convert into a 

fatalities occurring in motor vehicle accidents minimum of 450 and a maximum of 1,270 "in 

accompanied by fire in the United States are car" motor vehicle accident fire fatalities per 

between 1.7 and 2.8% of the total "in car" year. 



15 



HSRI compares this estimate with data in 
the NFPA Fire Protection Handbool<, Thirteenth 
Edition, which covers the years 1935 to 1969 
(10). NFPA reports 2,035 fire deaths associated 
with motor vehicles (except tank trucks) which 
are estimated by NFPA to be approximately 
10% of the total motor vehicle fire fatalities 
during this 35-year period. The National Safety 
Council reports 1,388,915 motor vehicle deaths 
for the same period. The average of motor 
vehicle fire deaths computed with these data 
is 1.5% of the total motor vehicle deaths. This 
figure equals the upper bound of annual fatali- 
ties of vehicle occupants resulting from fire 
in motor vehicle accidents reported in the 
HSRI study. 

Two current on-going, in-depth studies of 
fire fatalities provide further information on 
motor vehicle accident fire deaths. Since 1971, 
the Fire Problems Program at the Applied 
Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University 
(APL/jHU), has been conducting investigations 
of all fire fatalities in the State of Maryland. 
An early report of this group (11) states that 
approximately six percent of the fire fatalities 
occurring in the State during 1967 and 1968 
were transportation fire-related. This figure was 
obtained from the Maryland Fire Marshal's 



Office reports. Since 1971, the in-depth study 
of State fire fatalities, including on-site inci- 
dent investigations and autopsies, has reduced 
the percentage of fire fatalities associated with 
motor vehicle accidents to between 3 and 4% 
of all fire fatalities (23). Based on the average 
total number of fire deaths occurring in the 
State between 1972 and 1975, this percentage 
extrapolates nationally to approximately 300 
deaths annually. 

An in-depth study of fire injuries in metro- 
politan Salt Lake City by the Flammability Re- 
search Center, University of Utah, began in 
1972. A report "Fire Injuries: Case Studies" 
(24) covering the period June 1972 through 
February 1975 details 60% of the total reported 
fire injuries (including fatalities) investigated. 
Twenty-five fatalities were reported, one of 
which resulted from fire in an automobile. 
Thus, 4% of the fire fatalities studied over 
the 32-month period were motor vehicle fire- 
related. Applying this percentage to the aver- 
age number of yearly fire deaths occurring in 
the State since 1970 and extrapolating on the 
basis of population, approximately 280 motor 
vehicle fire-related deaths would be expected 
to occur in the United States annually. 



16 



I. Comparison of Fire Death Rates Estimated by 
Various Approaches 



The two most complete data sources of total 
fire deaths in the United States today are the 
HEW vital statistics mortality data and NFPA 
records. In order to make comparisons of the 
annual fire fatalities reported by these sources, 
it is necessary to adjust HEW data for motor 
vehicle accident fire fatalities not included in 
their fire death codes. 

Air and rail transport accident deaths ac- 
count for only about 4% of the total trans- 
portation accident fatalities and the few esti- 
mates of the annual number of these fatalities 
attributable to fire are small and of doubtful 
accuracy. Therefore, attempting to adjust HEW 
fire fatality data for air and rail deaths probably 
is of minor importance. 

The HEW data should also be adjusted to 
account for fire victims not recorded as such, 
especially those expiring long after the fire. 
The death certificates of these victims may 
record only pneumonia, liver or heart failure, 
etc. with no mention of the initiating fire inci- 
dent. 

Motor Vehicle Fire Deaths 

Estimates of the maximum and minimum 
number of national motor vehicle accident fire- 
related deaths can be made from the various 
independent studies discussed previously: State 
fire marshal reports, incidents recorded in the 
NFPA/FIDO file, and the NFPA data in Fire 
Protection Handbool<, 13th Edition. As noted 
earlier, the Michigan University HSRI review of 
data on motor vehicle accidents accompanied 
by fire from 1963 to 1973 (10) concluded that 
between 1.7 and 2.8% of all motor vehicle 
accident fatalities occurred in accidents accom- 
panied by fire and that deaths resulting from 
fire in motor vehicle accidents are from 1 to 
1.5% of the annual "in car" motor vehicle 
accident fatalities. Utilizing the Department of 
Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical 
Abstracts of the United States 1975 (4), data for 
"in car" motor vehicle fatalities for the years 



1970 through 1973 and the upper and lower 
limit percentages, the values for yearly fire 
deaths occurring in motor vehicle accidents in 
Table 10(a) were calculated. 

The State fire marshal reports surveyed in 
this fire data study indicated that on the aver- 
age 10.8% of the total fire deaths in the years 
1970 to 1974 could be attributed to fire asso- 
ciated with motor vehicles. Table 10(b) lists 
the motor vehicle fire deaths computed using 
this percentage and the HEW vital statistics 
mortality data and the NFPA national fire death 
yearly estimates. The annual motor vehicle re- 
lated fire deaths calculated from the HEW data 
for these years range from 800 to 900 per year. 
The values calculated with NFPA data range 
from 975 deaths per year to 1,050. 

The number of annual motor vehicle fire 
deaths calculated from the 4% estimate of all 
fire deaths derived from NFPA/FIDO data, and 
HEW annual fire death figures are tabulated 
in Table 10(c). The number of annual deaths 
in motor vehicle accidents accompanied by 
fire calculated using the 1.5% estimate of all 
motor vehicle traffic accident deaths derived 
from data in NFPA Fire Protection Handbook, 
13th Edition and National Safety Council data 
are listed in Table 10(d), (14). The annual motor 
vehicle fire fatality estimates calculated in this 
manner are more than twice the values com- 
puted with the FIDO percentage which is in 
agreement with that of the in-depth fatality 
studies in Maryland and metropolitan Salt 
Lake City. 

The annual motor vehicle fire death esti- 
mates calculated from the NFPA/FIDO percent- 
age and HEW annual fire death tabulations and 
those calculated with the HSRI (10) minimum 
percentage for deaths resulting from fire in 
motor vehicle accidents fall in the range of 
300 to 450 per year. The maximum estimates 
of annual motor vehicle accident fire deaths 
are calculated with the HSRI percentage of 
deaths in motor vehicle accidents accompanied 



17 



Table 10. FIRE RELATED MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT DEATHS 

Method 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 

(a) Calculated using HSRI, University of Michigan 
factors and total highway deaths.' 

Maximum (2.8%x total vehicle occupant deaths)!, 253 1,235 1,257 1,268 1,253^ 

Minimum (1.0%x total vehicle occupant deaths) 447 441 449 453 447 



(b) Calculated from average of State Fire Marshal data 
as factor applied to total fire deaths. 

Maximum ' (calculated with NFPA annual fire 

death estimates). 1,048 1,012 1,011 983 976 

Minimum ' (calculated with HEW annual fire death 

data). 890 897 878 860 818 



(c) Calculated using NFPA^-FIDO factors applied to 
total annual fire deaths. 

Based on HEW annual fire deaths. 308 311 304 299 284 



(d) Calculated using NFPA fire death data 

in Fire Protection Handbool(, 13th edition.' 

Total vehicle accident occupant deaths X 1.5% 670 661 673 680 671 



(e) NFPA unofficial estimate in America Burning ' 3,950 



' Motor vehicle accident occupant deaths from Statistical Abstracts of the United States, 1975. HSRI, 
University of Michigan report No. UM-HSRI-SA-74-3, April 1974. 

' 1974 motor vehicle accident occupant deaths unavailable, average of values from 1970-1973 used in 
calculation. 

' Motor vehicle fire deaths = 10.8%x (NFPA annual fire death estimates - annual motor vehicle fire 
deaths based on Dunn and Halpin study + motor vehicle fire deaths). Dunn, H. L. and Halpin, E. H., 
"Fire Casualty Statistics," National Fire Protection Quarterly. Vol. 45, No. 1, 1951, p. 45. 

'Annual motor vehicle fire deaths = 10.8%x (HEW annual fire deaths + motor vehicle fire deaths). 

'Ottoson, J. "A Summary of Fire Deaths in the United States, 1971-1975," NFPA, Boston, MA., August 
1975. Prepared for Fire Research Center, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C. 
Annual motor vehicle fire deaths = 4.0%x (HEW annual fire deaths + motor vehicle fire deaths). 

' Motor vehicle accident occupant deaths from Statist/ca( Abstracts of the United States, 1975. Fire Pro- 
tection Handbook, 13th Edition, NFPA, Boston, MA., 1969. 

' America Burning, The Report of the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, U. S. Gov't 
Printing Office 052-000-00004-1, 1973. 



18 



by fire and range from 1,235 to 1,270 per year. 
The values calculated from the NFPA, Hand- 
book, 13th Edition percentage are near the 
average of these extremes. 

Since the HSR! percentages were based on 
review of many studies over the past 10 years 
and the other values calculated from different 
data sources fall near or within the limits cal- 
culated with these percentages, the range of 
annual fire deaths associated with motor ve- 
hicle accidents in the United States is most 
probably between 300 and 1,300 per year. The 
lower number represents those deaths attrib- 
utable to fire rather than accident, while the 
higher number represents an upper bound esti- 
mate of deaths in motor vehicle accidents ac- 
companied by fire which may or may not be 
true fire deaths. 

Death Certificate Omissions of 
Fire Causality 

Estimates of the percentage of fire victims 
expiring in hospitals some time after the fire 
incident may be made from the detailed fire 
casualty studies of the Fire Problems Program 
at APL/JHU and the fire injury studies of the 
Flammability Research Center, University of 
Utah. The in-depth studies of Maryland fire 
deaths (25) show that 80% of all fire deaths 
in the study occur the first day after the fire 
incident. Data from a study of all fire victims 
reported by the Baltimore City Fire Depart- 
ment during a 14-month period (26) showed 
that 85% of the total fire deaths occurred 
within one week of the fire incident, 91% 
within two weeks, and 96% within one month. 
The Flammability Research Center study of fire 
injuries in the greater Salt Lake City area indi- 
cates that 85% of all fire deaths studied oc- 
curred within one day of the fire incident and 
96% within one week. The remaining 4% 
survived longer than two weeks. 

These figures indicate that 4 to 9% of all 
fire deaths may be hospitalized for a sufficient 
length of time that fire may not be indicated 
on the death certificate as related to the cause 
of death. Of the fire victims in the Baltimore 
City study who survived greater than one day, 
77% ultimately died of burns and 15% of 



pulmonary problems. With these patients, com- 
plicating medical problems such as kidney and 
liver failure and respiratory infection begin to 
appear late in the first week. If the patient 
survives long enough, these complications may 
be listed as the cause of death with the under- 
lying fire casuality omitted. Applying the maxi- 
mum 9% of fire fatalities possibly not recorded 
on death certificates to the HEW vital statistics 
mortality data for the years 1970 to 1974 would 
add an average of 646 deaths per year to those 
listed. (The minimum value of such death cer- 
tificate omissions is zero.) 

Total Annual Fire Deaths and 
Death Rates 

Table 11 shows that the total annual fire 
fatalities recorded in HEW vital statistics mor- 
tality data for the years 1970 to 1974, with the 
maximum and minimum adjustments for fire- 
related deaths occurring in motor vehicle acci- 
dents and death certificate omissions. NFPA 
fire death estimates for these years and the 
deaths per million population for both data 
sets are given. The NFPA death rates were ob- 
tained from reference 27. Annual death rates 
calculated from the State fire marshal reports 
examined (Tables 5 and 6) are included. 

Utilizing all available data, the estimated fire 
deaths obtained from making maximum up- 
wards adjustments to HEW mortality data differ 
greatly— by 2,500 to 3,000 deaths— from the 
NFPA estimates. This difference in the maxi- 
mally adjusted HEW data and the NFPA fire 
death estimates over the five years examined 
ranges from 34 to 44% of the HEW reported 
fire deaths. 

The yearly fire death rates obtained with 
minimal adjustments to HEW mortality data 
and the annual fire deaths calculated from 
State fire marshal reports data ranged from 29 
to 38 fire deaths per million population during 
the years examined. The minimum difference 
between the HEW and averaged State data 
rates for a given year is three deaths per mil- 
lion population (1971 and 1973) and the maxi- 
mum difference is eight fire deaths per million 
population in 1970. Since HEW tabulations in- 
clude data from all 50 States and the adjust- 



19 



Table 11. ANNUAL UNITED STATES FIRE DEATH ESTIMATES 

Source 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 



Estimated Number of Fire Deaths 



HEW Data with "minimum" adjustment ' 
HEW Data with "maximum" adjustment ' 
NFPA annual estimates 



7,663 7,727 

9,270 9,318 

12,200 11,850 



7,558 

9,164 

11,900 



7,408 7,048 

9,017 8,625 

11,700 11,600 



State fire marshal reports (11 States — Table 5) 
State fire marshal reports (25 States — Table 6) 
Survey of selected U.S. cities (1973) ' 
HEW Data with "minimum" adjustment 
HEW Data with "maximum" adjustment 
NFPA estimates — ^total ' 



Estimated Fire Death Rates 
(Deaths per million population) 



32.7 


34.9 


32.4 


32.8 


33.3 


30.1 






37.9 


28.9 


37.6 


37.5 


36.3 


35.3 


33.3 


45.5 


45.2 


44.0 


43.0 


40.8 


59.9 


57.2 


57.1 


55.7 


55.4 



' Minimum Adjustments 
The minimum number of annual motor vehicle fire deaths equaled 4.0% X (HEW annual fire deaths 
plus motor vehicle fire deaths). NFPA FIDO records (Ottoson, J. "A Summary of Fire Deaths in the United 
States, 1971-1975, NFPA, Boston, MA., August 1975. Prepared for the Fire Research Center, National 
Bureau of Standards) show that 4% of all fire deaths occurred in road transport accidents. These cal- 
culated numbers of yearly motor vehicle fire deaths were added to HEW annual fire death tabulations. 
An absolute lower limit of zero was used for fire deaths not recorded in HEW tabulations due to omis- 
sion of fire as the underlying cause on death certificates. 
Maximum Adjustments 

The maximum numbers of annual motor vehicle fire deaths were estimated as 2.8% of all annual occu- 
pant deaths occurring in motor vehicle accidents. Studies of HSRI, University of Michigan (Report No. 
UM-HSRI-SA-74-3, April 1974) showed that 2.8% of all motor vehicle accident occupant deaths 
occurred in accidents accompanied by fire. Annual numbers of motor vehicle occupant deaths from 
Statistical Abstracts of the United States 1975 were used in the calculation. The maximum number of 
fire deaths possibly not included in HEW fire death tabulations due to death certificate omissions of 
fire as the underlying cause of death equaled 9% of HEW tabulated annual fire deaths. This percentage 
was estimated from indepth studies of fire casualties. (Levine, M. S. "Fire Victims: Medical Outcomes 
and Demographic Characteristics," Am. J. Public Health, accepted; and Einhorn, I. N. "Fire Injuries — 
Case History Studies," Progress Report under NSF Grant Ert 72-03406-ADH, Flammability Research 
Center, University of Utah, July 1975). The yearly values computed for these two categories of fire 
deaths were added to the annual HEW fire death tabulations. 

' Yamazaki, T., et al. "Statistics of the Fire Service 1973," International Fire Ch/ef Vol. 41, No. 4, 1975, 
p. 6. 

' "Fires and Fire Losses Classified, 1975," Fire Journa/Vol. 70, No. 6, 1976, p. 17. 



20 



ments made are of unknown accuracy, differ- whose populations varied from 800 thousand 

ences of these magnitudes are not too sur- to 2 million (28). The total fire deaths in those 

prising. cities divided by the total populations repre- 

The lower HEW estimate for 1973 lies in sented gives a fire fatality rate of 37.9 deaths 

the middle of the rate estimated from State per million population compared to the 35.3 

data and the rate computed from a survey of deaths per million population of the HEW ad- 

14 geographically dispersed United States cities justed data. 



21 



IV. Selected Characteristics of Fire Deaths 



This section briefly summarizes who are the 
victims of fire, and some categories of death 
by occupancy type and cause. This is not a 
comprehensive review of this data; rather, only 
the information associated with the sources 
examined for "numbers of fire deaths" is de- 
scribed. 

The proportion of fire deaths in different 
categories show greater agreement among the 
sources than do the estimates of yearly total 
United States fire deaths. Table 12 gives data 
on sex, age, fatalities occurring in residential 
occupancies, and fatalities due to clothing and 
flammable material ignitions from HEW, NFPA, 
and State fire marshal reports. Data from the 
previously mentioned in-depth fire death stud- 
ies are included. Ranges and averages for the 
years 1970 to 1974 are stated. 

Sex 

The categories of greatest agreement are sex 
and age. HEW mortality data and State fire 
marshal reports indicate that 62 to 64% of 
annual United States fire deaths are males, 
versus 36 to 38% females. Cleady fire preven- 
tion programs should be especially focused 
on the male fire problem, and reasons for the 
imbalance explored. 

Age 

The State fire marshal reports and NFPA data 
show significant proportions of fire deaths 
occurring in the young and elderly populations 
relative to their percent in the general popula- 
tion. Children under 13 account for 23.8% 
of the population and people over 65 for 
10.3% (4). Thus, although these two groups 
account for one third of the population, they 
experience roughly half of the annual United 
States fire deaths. Prevention efforts have been 
focused on these groups, and should continue 
to be. 



Residential Occupancy 

The data on the percentage of fire deaths 
occurring in residential occupancies show 
larger variations between sources, largely be- 
cause definitions of "residential" vary. HEW 
data for the years 1970 to 1974 indicate that 
an average of 61% of the fire deaths they re- 
port occur in private dwellings. Adding the 
maximum estimated number of motor vehicle 
accident fire deaths to the HEW reported 
deaths reduces the percentage of total fire 
deaths that are residential to 55%. The HEW 
definition for private dwellings is equivalent to 
NFPA residential occupancy classification with 
the large exception that NFPA includes deaths 
due to clothing and flammable liquid ignitions 
occurring in this type occupancy, while HEW 
does not. NFPA annual estimates for residential 
fire deaths over this period have averaged 
58% of all fire deaths. 

However, if NFPA annual estimates of total 
fire deaths are adjusted downward for motor 
vehicle accident fire deaths on the basis of 
the studies reviewed in this report (Table 9), 
the proportion of fire deaths occurring in resi- 
dential occupanies increases to 72%. Inde- 
pendently, a second NFPA source, the data in 
the NFPA FIDO file also indicates that resi- 
dential fire deaths account for 72% of all fire 
deaths. State fire marshal reports from 15 States 
indicate that 74% of annual fire deaths occur 
in residential occupancies. This 72 to 74% 
range for residential deaths is probably the best 
estimate at present. 

The HEW percentage for residential fire 
deaths would be expected to be lower than 
that of the other sources since they use sepa- 
rate categories for deaths resulting from cloth- 
ing and flammable material ignitions, many of 
which occur in residential occupancies. Fur- 
ther, HEW might not include some residential 
fire fatalities due to lack of information on 
occupancy on death certificates. Although only 



23 



Table 12. 



SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF FIRE DEATHS: 1970-1974 



Sources 


HEW Vital 
Statistics 


State fire 
NFPA' marshal reports 


Maryland ' 


Salt Lake 
City, Utah 








% total fire deaths 










Mean 


Range 


Mean Range Mean 


Range 






Sex: male 


62.1 


61.7-63.0 


— 63.8 


51.9-80.0 


57 


65 


female 


37.9 


37.0-38.3 


— 36.2 


20.0-48.1 


43 


35 


Age: 0-13' 


— 




24.0 21.6 = 


11.2-31.4 


25' 


25' 


over 65 ' 


— 




27.7 20.9 


14.6-30.0 


16 


19 


Residential 














occupancy 


61.4 


57.5-64.6 


59.6 51.3-72.0 74.1 


48.4-94.3 


— 


77 


Clothing ignitions 


8.1 


6.6-10.3 


11.0 5.2 


0.2-9.0 


— 


8 


Flammable liquids 


3.2' 


2.7-3.6 


4.2 ' 4.3 


2.3-7.3 


— 


19 



'Fire Protection Handbool<, 13th and 14th editions. "Fires and Fire Losses Classified," Fire Journal, an- 
nual. Clarke, J. B. and Ottoson, J. Fire Journal Vol. 70, No. 3, 1975. Ottoson, J. "A Summary of Fire 
Deaths in the United States 1971-1975, prepared for the Fire Research Center, National Bureau of 
Standards, August 1975. America Burning, U. S. Government Printing Office, 052-000-00004-1, 
1973. 

' "Fire Casualty Studies, 1971-1976, Fire Problems Program, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins 
University under grant NSF GI-44088 and NFPCA grant 75007. APL/JHU FFP TR 20 Bibliography of 
Reports, February 1976. 

Einhorn, I. N. "Fire Injuries — Case History Studies/' Progress Report under NSF grant Ert 72-03406- 
A04, Flammability Research Center, University of Utah, July 1975. 

'Children 0-13 years represent 24% of the population; people over sixty-five 10%. 
Children ages 0-12 years 

'Children ages 0-10 years 
Deaths due to ignition flammable materials 
Deaths due to flammable liquid ignitions in residential occupancies 



one-third of the States for which data on fire 
deaths by occupancy class were available gave 
sufficient information to establish equivalency 
of occupancy class to that of the NFPA defini- 
tion, the percentage of residential fire deaths 
calculated with this data agrees well with that 
based on NFPA FIDO data. 

Apparel Ignitions 

The average percentage of fire deaths that 
were due to clothing ignitions over 1970-1974 
was 5.2% according to State fire marshal re- 
ports. Only six of the 31 State fire marshal 
reports examined reported clothing ignitions 



separately. Since incidents in which clothing 
was the only Item to ignite may not be re- 
ported to fire departments, the number of such 
deaths reported to the State Fire Marshal's 
Office probably will be low. 

The scenario report of Ottoson and Clarke 
(7), a second source, states that the number 
of deaths due to apparel Ignitions recorded In 
the NFPA FIDO file are under-represented be- 
cause the file Is maintained from reports sub- 
mitted by fire departments and often the ap- 
parel fire is small and not reported to the fire 
service. In this Ottoson and Clarke report the 
fire death records In the FIDO file were ad- 
justed with data from the Flammable Fabrics 



24 



Accident Case and Testing System (FFACTS) 
and Consumer Product Safety Commission 
(CPSC) file for apparel ignition deaths. The 
authors estimated that 11% of the total annual 
fire deaths are attributable to apparel ignitions. 

A third source, the HEW tabulated data, in- 
dicates an average of 8% of the annual fire 
deaths result from clothing ignitions. This per- 
centage is reduced roughly 1% if estimated 
motor vehicle fire fatalities are added to the 
HEW yearly tabulations. 

Thus, the percent of fire deaths from cloth- 
ing ignitions during 1970-1974 ranged from 
5 to 11% — considerable variation in the esti- 
mate but a significant problem by any source. 
Encouragingly, the trend was sharply down- 
ward according to HEW data, decreasing from 
760 deaths in 1970 to 437 in 1974. 

Flammable Liquids 

The percentage of residential fire deaths at- 
tributable to flammable liquid ignitions calcu- 
lated with FIDO data is essentially equal to 
that in State fire marshal reports. The aver- 
age of the deaths by fire and flames reported 



by HEW as due to highly flammable materials 
is slightly lower than both the NFPA and State 
fire marshal value. Although these data sets 
are not strictly comparable, the data indicate 
that flammable materials are involved in be- 
tween 3 and 5% of annual fire deaths. 

Other Sources 

The in-depth studies of fire fatalities in the 
State of Maryland (29) and the greater Salt Lake 
City area (24) provide fire death data similar 
to that of the national sources. Both studies 
list males as approximately 60% of the total 
fire deaths and children through 10 years of 
age as 25%. Fire deaths among the elderly 
were 16% of the total fire fatalities in one 
study and 19% in the other. The Utah study 
listed 77°lo of the fire deaths as occurring in 
residential occupancies and 8% due to cloth- 
ing ignitions. Fire deaths attributable to flam- 
mable liquid ignitions in this study, however, 
were 19.2% of the total fire deaths investi- 
gated. Residential occupancy fire deaths result- 
ing from flammable liquid ignitions were 5% 
of the total residential occupancy fire deaths. 



25 



References 



1. National Commission on Fire Prevention and 

Control. America Burning, The Report of the 
National Connmisslon on Fire Prevention and 
Control. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government 
Printing Office, No. 052-000-0004-1, 1973. 

2. National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. De- 

partment of Health, Education and Welfare. 
V(fa/ Statistics of the United States: Mortal- 
ity. Vol. II, Parts A and B. Washington, D.C.: 
U.S. Government Printing Office. 

3. National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. De- 

partment of Health, Education and Welfare. 
International Classification of Diseases 
Adapted for Use in the United States. 8th 
Revision. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1967-1969. 

4. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of 

Commerce. Statistical Abstracts of the United 
States: 1975. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Gov- 
ernment Printing Office, No. 0324-01049-6, 
1975 July 

5. National Fire Protection Association. Fire Pro- 

tection hiandbook. 13th edition. Boston. 
1969. 

6. National Fire Protection Association. Fire Pro- 

tection Handbook. 14th edition. Boston. 
1976. 

7. Clarke, F. B., and Ottoson, J. Fire Death Sce- 

narios and Fire Safety Planning, Fire journal 
70(3) 1975, p. 20. 

8. Ottoson, J. A Summary of Fire Deaths in the 

United States, 1971-1975. Boston: National 
Fire Protection Association, 1975. Prepared 
for the Center for Fire Research, National 
Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C. 

9. Dunn, H. L., and Halpin, E. H. Fire Casualty 

Statistics. National Fire Protection Quarterly 
45(1) 1951, p. 45. 

10. Cooley, P. Fire in Motor Vehicle Accidents. 

Special Report UM-HSRI-SA-74-3, Highway 
Safety Research Institute. Ann Arbor: Uni- 
versity of Michigan, 1974. 

11. Halpin, B. M. Survey and Evaluation of United 

States National Fire Death Statistics. Topical 
Report FFP, TR6, Applied Physics Laboratory, 
The Johns Hopkins University, 1971 Decem- 
ber. 



12. Fires and Fire Losses Classified, 1970, Fire jour- 

nal 65 (5) 1971, p. 21. 

13. National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. De- 

partment of Health, Education and Welfare. 
Vital Statistics of the United States. Wash- 
ington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing 
Office. 

14. National Safety Council. Accident Facts. Chi- 

cago. 

15. Lauriente, M., and Wiggins, J. H. A National 

Program for Fire Safety in Transportation. In 
Fourth Intersociety Conference on Transpor- 
tation, Los Angeles, California, July 18-24, 
1976. 

16. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Fuel 

System Integrity, Federal Register 38(160) 
1973 August. 

17. Multiple Death Fires, 1975. Fire journal 70(4) 

p. 51. 

18. Moore, J. O., and Negri, D. B. Fire in Auto- 

mobile Accidents. Research Report 1969-2. 
Albany, N.Y.: New York State Department of 
Motor Vehicles, 1969 September. 

19. Siegel, A. W., and Nahum, A, M. Vehicle Post 

Collision Considerations. 7970 International 
Automobile Safety Conference Compendium. 
New York: Society of Automobile Engineers, 
Inc., 1970. 

20. Sliepchevich, C. M., et al. Escape Worthiness 

of Vehicles and Occupant Survival. Final Re- 
port under NHTSA Contract No. FH-11-7303, 
Oklahoma Research Institute, University of 
Oklahoma, 1970 December. 

21. Sliepchevich, C. M., et al. Escape Worthiness 

of Vehicles for Occupancy Survivals and 
Crashes. Final Report under NHTSA Contract 
No. FH-11-7512, Oklahoma Research Insti- 
tute, University of Oklahoma, 1972 July. 

22. Filkins, L. Alcohol Abuse and Traffic Safety. 

Special Report under NHTSA Contract No. 
FH-11-6555 and FH-11-7129, Highway 
Safety Research Institute, University of Mich- 
igan, 1972 June. 

23. Halpin, B. H. Fire Casualty Studies, 1971-1976. 

Fire Problems Program, Applied Physics 
Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University, 
unpublished data. 



26 



24. Einhorn, I. N. Fire Injuries-Case History Studies. 27. Fires and Fire Losses Classified, 1975. Fire Jour- 
Progress Report under NSF Grant ERT 72- na/ 70(6) 1976, p. 17. 

03406-A04, Flammability Research Center, 28. Yamazaki, T., Ohmi, M., and Naoi, Y. Statis- 
University of Utah, 1975 July. tics of the Fire Service 1973. The Interna- 
ls. Radford, E. P., Levine, M. S., and Halpin, B. M. tional Fire Chief AT (4) 1975, p. 6. 

Fire Casualty Studies Annual Summary Re- 29. Fire Casualty Studies, 7977-7976 Fire Problems 

port July 1, 1974-June 30, 1975. FPP A75. Program, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns 

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26. Levine, M. S. Fire Victims: Medical Outcomes FFP TR 20 Bibliography of Reports, 1976 

and Demographic Characteristics. American February. 
journal of Public Health (accepted). 



27 



Fire in the United States 



Each year the United States experiences approximately: 

• 7,500 fire deaths 

• $4.2 billion in direct property loss from fires 



• 2.6 million fires that are attended by the fire service, and another 
30 million, mostly minor fires, that are not reported to the fire 
service 

• 110,000 reported fire injuries and an estimated 200,000 additional 
injuries from fires not reported to the fire service 

• High statewide fire-death rates in the Southeast and low rates in 
the West and a scattering of other States 

• Roughly, two-thirds of the U.S. fire deaths occurring in ones and 
twos in the victims' own homes; and less than 4% occurring in 
what are commonly thought of as "catastrophe" fires 

• Striking differences from place to place in important aspects of the 
fire problem 

NFPCA's National Fire Data Center has recently completed its first 
comprehensive report on the fire problem in the United States. These 
major findings, as well as extensive information on the occurrence of 
fires, dollar loss, death, and injury were derived from data from the 
National Fire Incident Reporting System, the National Fire Protection 
Association, the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the 
National Household Fire Survey, State Fire Marshal reports, and other 
sources. 

The report, "Fire in the United States," will be available by late winter 
through the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. 20402. For 
a brief summary of the findings and conclusions of the report, contact 
the Fire Reference Service, National Fire Prevention and Control Admin- 
istration, P.O. Box 19518, Washington, D.C. 20036